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Today this blog is six years old. SIX! I can’t believe how far back it seems when I impulsively got a Typepad account, and stuck with it all these years. I’ve often toyed with the idea of stopping, partly from blog-fatigue or too much work, but always continued because it was a lot of fun. I’ve just picked up the needles again after yet another excruciatingly long summer and cast on for a hundred different things. But this anniversary, it’s time for a change. I haven’t updated in a while anyway, and the anniversary is as good a time as any to sign off with a flourish!
I’m not tired or bored with the blogging – although baby and full time work have heavily truncated my knitting and blogging time. Instead, I’m moving to a new blog and location. Here is a link to Dhaage Dore, my new Marathi blog. This blog not only kept me sane when I was in the US academy, but also put me in touch with some wonderful people from all over the world. I am very thankful for these enduring relationships. But one of the best things I have learned through Desiknitter is the ability and freedom to effortlessly write on mundane matters, on anything and everything that comes to mind, away from the refuge of academese. And yet, I like to think that it has also improved my academic writing, making it less turgid and jargon-dependent. As I write more and more in Marathi, I hope to do the same with it on the new blog – it will be a place to bring together my scattered Marathi writings from here and there on this and that, to explore workable idioms for narratives of different sorts, and continue my crafting adventures in a new vein. “Dhaage dore,” after all, is “threads and strands.”
If you read Marathi, do hop over to give me feedback. Even if you don’t, there will still be pictures of knitting, food and travel as always! I hope you will continue to vist and say hi. Thank you, as always, gentle readers, for your encouragement and fellowship over these years.
(These are Regia self-striping socks, toe-up, with 10 stitches magic cast on and 44 stitches total….and the baby is nine months old, trying desperately to let go of my hand and walk by himself.)
On a long (but duronto!) rail journey across the country, watching the sashaying bogies from the window as the train went along a curve, it was most appropriate that I was knitting a cotton train of sorts myself:
This is Nilu the Caterpillar. Adapted from Kimberly Chapman’s amazing set of free toy patterns. He is many shades of blue, hence, obviously, the name.
Pattern: Caterpillar by Kimberly Chapman
Gauge: 5 spi / 6spi for the navy
Needle: size 4 US (3.5 mm) dpns for the blue and purple balls, and 1 US (2.25 mm) dpns for the navy ball, and the applied I-cord edging
Yarn: Leftover little balls of cotton yarn, I’m not really sure what brands they were.
This is the simplest, quickest toy to make – cast on, join in the round, increase a few times, knit straight for a few rows, decrease equal number of times, stuff, repeat, and decrease all the way down in the last one. You can adapt it to any gauge, and also stuff as you go to see how large you want it. You can add or subtract the number of balls. You can even change the needles to keep to a similar size if you use different-weight yarns, as I did. I also ditched the legs and just made two I-cord antennae and sewed on eyes. Thank you, Kimberly Chapman, for a great free pattern, and lots of inspiration!
Nilu and M are already best friends. He is just learning to turn on to his side and fall on his tummy, and wraps himself around the toy, koala-bear style, as he does it. Generally, he seems to like long, tubular toys, so my mind is abuzz with pattern ideas for similar shapes. In the meantime, I hope Nilu is durable and patient, because it looks like he is going to get some rough treatment in the coming weeks.
There’s an Amigurumi knitalong/crochetalong going on over at the South Asian Crafters group on Ravelry, with folks making lots and lots of really neat little toys. Most of them so far are crocheted, but I decided to make a knitted toy I have wanted to make for a long time: Ruth Homrighaus’s brilliant Sheldon the Turtle.
I don’t know how it happened, since I used thinner yarn and tinier needles than the pattern called for, but my turtle, somehow, has a much bigger head and stumpier legs compared to its body and shell, and looks rather like a wannabe tyrannosaurus:
This is my first knitted toy, hopefully the first of many. This particular one had a lot of small parts, lots of different techniques and a LOT of finishing, some of which I botched and had to redo several times, but it’s a very detailed and carefully drafted pattern (not surprising since Ruth is an editor!) so it was not difficult to figure out. A second Sheldon will be a lot easier. The applied I-cord edging was easy once I actually tried it out, but getting it to look neat and elegant will take more than the two tries I gave it.
Pattern: Sheldon the Turtle
Gauge: I didn’t measure
Needle: size 1 US, 2.25 mm dpns, and size 4 dpns for the applied I-cord edging
Yarn: Elann Esprit, approx half a skein each in brown and off-white.
1. A cotton/elastic yarn is probably not the best yarn for a stuffed toy because no matter how tight the gauge, the stuffing does have a tendency to show through the stretchy fabric.
2. Finishing is not my forte. I don’t mind a round of crochet and weaving in of ends, even picking up stitches for a neckline, or buttonband. Zippers are probably the outer limit of my adventurousness with such things. Crochet, a lot of sewing, applied-Icord, stuffing, and weaving in of ends was, therefore, quite the uphill trek. Totally worth the view at the end, as it were, but still.
3. In these small, somewhat complicated techniques, it’s best to follow the instructions closely. Like starting to stuff the body when it says you should, rather than waiting till the end when the opening is too small.
4. I need to figure out a way to make the neck stuffing firmer. No matter what I did, or how many times I restuffed it, Sheldon’s neck is like a stereotypically shy bride’s, a bit downcast.
5. I dispensed with the plastic eyes, and embroidered them on with the off-white CC instead. Just in case M takes to the toy, and wants to chew on it sometime.
He is still rather suspicious of Sheldon, but who knows? They might be friends in the future.
Thanks for all your comments on the Syllable Vest! The excitement of making things for M is also making me try out new patterns of my own, however simple in look and construction. Here is another one, made hurriedly during a trip to the hills where it was a lot cooler than I had expected:
It’s a cardiganized version of the “seamless hybrid” pattern – a mix of a saddle shoulder and raglan – from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears, sized for a 6-9 month old baby, with some stitch detail. I worked it from memory, since I didn’t have my copy of the book with me, but it worked out alright, except that in this baby size, the saddle ends up rather short. I worked two small 2-stitch twists into the sleeve pattern extending into the saddle shoulder, one twisting right and the other left, hence the “Doubletwist” name.
I have written out a rough pattern below mostly for me to remember what I did this time round – I’d like to make another version of this, because this one turned out rather sloppy at the end. I tried to “kill” the acrylic into shape by wetting and ironing the patterned buttonband. But a moment’s distraction while the iron was hot meant I held it on the right buttonband for too long. Thanks to the slipped stitch at the edge, the band got overstretched, and now gapes at least a couple of inches longer than its counterpart. It doesn’t matter so much since there are only 3 buttons, but those too look gapey and unsightly.
Doubletwist Cardigan Quick Notes:
Pattern: Improvised cardigan based on EZ’s Seamless Hybrid.
Needles: Size 4 bamboo circular.
Gauge: 6 spi.
Yarn: Vardhaman acrylic (approx 3 skeins).
Size: To fit baby 6-9 months.
Finished Dimensions: Chest – 20″; Total length: 11″, Armhole depth: 4″
LT: Knit two stitches together as if to SSK. Pull yarn through both stitches, but before dropping them off the left needle, knit into the first stitch once more, then drop both stitches off together.
RT: Knit two stitches together as if to K2tog, Pull yarn through both stitches, but before dropping them off the left needle, knit into the first stitch once more, then drop both stitches off together.
Sleeves (2): C0 38. K2, p2 for 10 rows.
Setup Row (RS): K 14, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k 14.
All WS rows: knit stitches as they appear.
Next row: k14, p2, LT, p2, RT, p2, k14.
Knit 7 more rows as established.
Next row and every 6th row hereafter, inc 1 stitch each at both ends of the row.
Continue till you have a total of 50 stitches on the needle.
Knit 7 more rows even after the last increase row.
Cut yarn. Put the first and last three stitches on each sleeve on a piece of waste yarn, and set sleeves aside.
Body: CO 126 st.
K2, p2 for 10 rows.
Setup Row (RS): Sl1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k110, p2, k2, p2, k2.
All WS rows: sl1, knit the rest of the stitches as they appear.
Next row: Sl1, k1, p2, RT, p2, k110, p2, LT, p2, k2.
Knit as established till work measures 6 inches total.
Join body and sleeves:
RS: K2, YO, p2 (for first buttonhole) knit 25 in patt, put next 6 st on waste yarn, join and knit across right sleeve, k 56 st of body, put next 6 st on waste yarn, join and knit across right sleeve, k29 of body in patt.
Work one row even in patt.
Next row: Work 26 st in patt (right front), pm, SSK, k2, pm, k2tog, work 38 st in patt (right sleeve), pm, SSK, k2, pm, k2tog, work 49 st in patt, (back) pm, SSK, k2, pm, k2tog, work 38 st in patt (left sleeve), pm, SSK, k2, pm, k2tog, work 26 st in patt (left front).
Next row: work even in patt.
Repeat these two rows this way, working in patt to the 3 stitches before the markers, and working the raglan decreases on the RS, for a total of 24 rows (48 st decreased total).
IMP: Remember to work buttonholes at the beginning of every 10th or 12th RS row.
Work 32 st in patt, SSK, turn work.
Sl 1, work next 14 st in patt, k2tog. Turn work.
Continue joining right shoulder saddle stitches to the front and back stitches in this way, till you reach the right front pattern button band. Cut yarn.
Repeat for left saddle.
Neck: Work 8 rows in patt.
Put on baby, who is happy wearing it with or without a perfect buttonband!
The mercury has been hovering around 40 deg celcius (104 F) the last few days. Even nighttime temperatures have been in the 20s. So the idea of a sweater in any yarn or material, let alone wool or alpaca, is quite simply madness. But the combination of a new tiny person to knit for, a knitting addiction, stir-craziness and spare yarn lying around beats even this rotten heat. So when a longish train journey in an A/C compartment and a visit to a slightly cooler place loomed on the horizon, I whipped up this vest for my baby.
The first syllable of his name is maa (plus that’s who is knitting the sweater for him, get it? get it?), so I adapted it in a stylised motif from the scripts of two of the three Indian languages spoken in our family. The first (the front) is in Bangla, and the second (the back) is in Kannada:
Actually, it can be reversible too: the buttons and shoulder opening, and the V and round necks just change sides. I created a chart for the motifs in Excel, and worked it from there. (I couldn’t figure out how to get the gridlines of the graph to show in the saved file – does anyone know how?) I thought of calling it the Maa Vest, but that sounded too much like Baa Baa Black Sheep, or Paa, yet another of those Amitabh-Abhishek starrer films that I couldn’t bring myself to watch. So “Syllable Vest” it is – I liked charting the letters enough to contemplate charting other letters and syllables for future versions of the pattern. My mother has already asked me to chart M in Marathi and English for one she wants to knit.
I really like the sideways opening of the popular Pebble Vest, but wanted to make something that would stretch a bit and fit him until this winter at least. So I knit a band of ribbing at the sides, and at the shoulders, and made it a bit long. It’s 19 inches, unstretched, across the chest, but stretches a good two inches.
Syllable Vest Notes:
Pattern: My own, inspired by the Pebble Vest.
Needles: Size 6 straights.
Gauge: 5 spi.
Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Highland (approx 1 skein), and some Indiecita Alpaca worsted, used doubled, approx 3/4 of a skein. In general, you need about 300 yards, 200 in the main colour, and about 100 in the contrast. Also, 5 black buttons, which are not ideal, but which will do.
Size: To fit baby 6-12 months.
Finished Dimensions: Chest – 19″, can stretch about 2″; Total length: 10.5″, Armhole depth: 3.5″.
Syllable Vest Notes:
1. Cast on 102 st in MC, knit 2×2 ribbing for 10 rows, with CC at rows 5&6.
2. Remember to start buttonhole at beginning of row 3, and every 12th row thereafter.
3. Setup row at row 11: k2,p2,k2,p2, k38, p2,k2p2,k2,p2, k38, p2,k2,p2,k2.
4. Knit 3 rows even in MC, then 2 rows of CC, then 2 more rows of CC.
5. Start motif. Knit 40 rows of motif: start bottom motif at stitch # 60, and top motif at stitch # 10.
6. Start armhole: BO 10 st, k38, BO 10, k48. Next row, BO 10, k38.
Now turn, and first work the back.
7. Next row, sl1, SSK, knit till 3 st left, k2tog, k1. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows twice.
8. Knit 2 rows even in MC, then 2 rows even in CC.
9. K16, turn work. BO 4 st, purl across. Next row, knit to last 3 st, k2tog, k1, turn work and purl across. Repeat these two rows once.
10. Next row: sl1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2. Knit 13 more rows as established. Bind off all stitches.
11. Join new MC yarn at back neck RS, BO 4 st, knit across. Purl next row. Next row: sl1, SSK, knit across. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows once.
12. Next row: sl1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2. Knit 13 more rows as established. Bind off all stitches.
13. Join fresh MC yarn at beginning of RS row. sl1, SSK, k13, k2tog, k1. Purl next row. Next row, knit to last 3 st, k2tog, k1, turn work and purl across. Repeat these two rows once.
14. Sl1, knit till 3 st left, k2tog, k1. Purl across. Repeat these two rows once in MC, once in CC.
9. Next row: sl1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2. Knit 13 more rows as established. Bind off all stitches.
Using CC yarn, single crochet (SC) along the neck starting at left front opening. At the V and U neck joins, use a double crochet stitch. Repeat SC for right armhole, starting at back armhole opening. Repeat also for left front and back armhole openings. Sew on 5 buttons, and weave in all ends.
With motifs, I can never decide whether to do them via duplicate stitch or knit them into the main fabric. Duplicate is easier, but I cannot shake off the irrational idea that it is cheating with the knitting. I like colourwork in general, and enjoyed knitting the motifs into the main fabric, but the wild jungle of loose ends it generates at the back, especially with an asymmetrical pattern across multiple rows and stitches, is a royal pain. But I did patiently weave them all in in the end, and for good measure, added a few duplicate stitches here and there where I felt the Kannada motif could use some fine-tuning.
Overall, am pretty satisfied with the results. The recipient seems pleased too!
A couple of months back, I finished a long-running project: a February Baby. A boy design, my own!
So of course, I had to make a February Baby sweater for him:
Last year I made my first February Baby Sweater but posted about it in March. This year, thanks to the new arrival, I’m getting around to it only in April. Let us see if this monthly progression continues with more FBSs down the line..
Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles; Practically Seamless (Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitter’s Almanac)
Yarn: Socks that Rock Fingering, in Vancouver Violet, maybe half a skein.
Needles: Size 5.
Gauge: 5.5 spi in garter stitch.
Size:To fit a 7-8 lbs newborn. 7.5″ total length, 18? chest circumference, 7″ shoulder to armhole, 4″ neck to armhole, and 4″ armhole to wrist.
I scaled the pattern down to fit a newborn – started with 50 stitches and went up to 148 stitches in 10 garter ridges. Then I did four pattern repeats, before dividing at the armhole. Then I measured him as I went along for the sleeve and body length. It fit perfectly when he was a week old, and he pretty much lived in it till he was a month old, but as March rolled around, it got too warm to wear. He still wears it occasionally at two months, but it’s now a little short at the sleeves.
The sleeve instructions of this pattern, anyway a very loosely worded one, are somewhat ambiguous. Racing to finish the sweater amidst a suddenly, radically changed sleep schedule and a new person to get to know, I totally botched up the picking up of the stitches at the armhole for the body. I picked up too few, and as a result, the sleeves didn’t quite sit flat and right. But the edges folded in very cooperatively, so I just sewed the sleeves in with a seam allowance.
Terrible to do it, I know, and even worse to photograph and blog about it. I should have snapped the picture, frogged the body, redone it with the right number of stitches and detailed the repairs. But honestly, an heirloom object as this first project for my son will likely be, I couldn’t have cared less at that point, and neither did he. I was just thrilled to finish it and put it on him!
Finally. I completed one of the most challenging projects I have done to date. No, it’s not an Orenburg shawl, or an Alice Starmore fair isle, or even a Norah Gaughan geometric masterpiece. It’s a simple kid’s lace cardigan, but one that I worked out totally from scratch, entirely my own design from stitch pattern to construction to detail, trying to flesh out a very particular picture of it I had in mind. I was so wrapped up in it that I totally forgot my blog’s FIFTH freaking anniversary back in November!!!!!
Voila Arohi’s cardigan, the end result of many, many swatches, maths calculations and frogged versions:
I mentioned earlier that I first started with this lace cardigan from Knitty, but just couldn’t get the lace pattern to flow, or the gauge and yarn to work. I wanted to use the same yarn, plus I wanted a more intuitive lace repeat, and, if possible, a seamless raglan.
I picked a simple leaf lace motif, the same I had used for the kiri shawl, and cast on from neck downwards. Since the leaves have a fixed number of stitches and I wanted to avoid any bands of stockinette if possible, this was a bit tricky, but it worked out beautifully in the end. I started with one leaf each for the fronts and sleeves, and two for the back, and the leaf shape blended neatly into the raglans, as well as the tiny v-neck:
The best part of all, however, was that the pattern continued seamlessly even at, and past, the raglan joins at the armhole. Figuring this out without gaping holes or lines going awry was the hardest part. But honestly, my – ahem – nimble fingers apart, so much of this symmetry is inherent in the maths of lace patterns that you just have to pay attention and let the motif guide you. I was quite pleasantly surprised when I first realized how the leaves were coming together at the raglan join, then excited, terrified, and supremely pleased, in that order of emotions, as I worked out the decreases.
No doubt, this is old hat to anybody who’s designed anything mildly complicated, but hey, it’s my first time. Also, I badly want to write this pattern up, but my notes scribbled as I went along are now quite indecipherable, and I am terrified again of the calculations. The fact that the beginning of each round of the sleeves kept changing due to the lace pattern was a bit intimidating, and I have no idea how to write out the instructions, let alone graph it. But I would like to, just to learn the damn process, and note down some variations and such, so let’s see. Right now just seeing the leaves cascade down the raglan is putting a big grin on my face.
Pattern: Arohi’s cardigan (lace cardigan for a 3 year old)
Yarn: Adreena’s Supreena Pure New Wool, fingering, 75 gms, approx. 450-500 yards
Some random acrylic in deep green for the border, approx 75 yards?
Needles: size 4 (3.5 mm) circulars and DPNS
Gauge: 6 spi over stockinette stitch, using size 4 needles
Dimensions: total length 14″; length from armhole to bottom 9″; raglan depth 7″; neck 6″ wide; sleeves from underarm to wrist 9″; bell sleeves width 6″; chest 26″
I first chose a knitted border in pale green cotton, and then a silky black one. But the knitted border, despite the fact that I added it after the whole thing was quite ferociously blocked beforehand, bunched up the lace, and tightened the neck, in particular. So I went with two rows of a more relaxed single crochet edging, since only one was still causing the edges to curl.
This one is all ready to be sent off – and you know you have a good pattern with you when you immediately want to make another one! I think my next one will be in cotton or acrylic, simply because I think these might retain the blocking a bit longer. But this one is whisper lightweight, and I hope it fits the little girl well.
This is a personal milestone for me in my own relationship to the craft and my understanding of how it works, no matter how simple it might objectively be – so it’s quite appropriate that even if a bit belated, it should mark five years of this blog, and my adventures in knitting!
All I’ve done this past month is swatch. Swatch, swatch and more swatch, for a good yarn, gauge and fit for this lace cardigan. Even the left front that I ambitiously embarked on eventually turned out to be just a giant swatch.
A friend of mine asked if I do items for sale, I said no, but I would be happy to knit something for her daughter, and picked this one out, as it seemed relatively simple, yet interesting and dressy for a kid’s cardigan. She liked it, we went back and forth a couple of times about fit and colour and yarn choices, and we decided on the lovely rust Supreena pure wool DK I had just found in a local wool store.
So I began swatching. First with size 5s. It was going to be too large. Then with size 4s. Still too large. Before going down a further needle size I checked the chatter on this pattern on Ravelry and found that pretty much everyone said the sizes ran very large, the 2 year old size fitting 4-6 year olds, and so on. The designer very kindly emailed me a revised pattern, but still cautioned me about the sweater being roomy, so I started over with the smallest size for a 2 year old, even though my friend’s daughter is nearly 4.
But after finishing the left front, I realised that somehow, it wasn’t working. The lace pattern means that blocking the fabric would be both a disadvantage and an advantage for kids’ sweaters, which could be stretched to grow but also turn out huge. But even if I nailed down the sizing, this particular lace motif somehow just eluded me. It is gorgeous, but unintuitive, and for every finished swatch I made, there were potentially several that were frogged midway because I kept making mistakes.
So, I finally decided to abandon this pattern. But the kid’s lace cardigan bug bit me, and I decided to play around with other leaf-like motifs. Plus the idea that kids’ sweaters should involve minimal finishing and fuss is also very deeply ingrained, so instead of separate pieces, am tinkering with a seamless one instead. Yes, that means figuring out diagonal increases and decreases, and… you guessed it, more swatching. The top one is Supreena on size 4s (6 spi stockinette), and the bottom is Bouton d’Or Mango cotton/modal, at 5.25 spi (stockinette).
I realised that I don’t really know how best to measure stitches per inch in lace patterns. Do you pick a stockinette row and measure there, or swatch a fixed number of stitches and then measure the entire swatch? But I may have finally hit upon some workable numbers and instructions, to the extent that I can pretend that the latest iteration is not just a swatch but may even progress into project-hood and escape early termination.
We shall see. What is knitting without some swatching pain?
Am really glad everyone enjoyed the Durga Puja photographs! I oscillated between hating the nonstop noise and suffocation by ad-banners, and just soaking in the sheer festive energy and beauty. But I’m still not quite sure what to make of the disconnect between the genuine creativity and interest in using natural, sustainable materials and showcasing important eco-awareness themes within the pandals themselves, and the increasingly unsustainable mode of enjoying them outside and around them – harsh floodlights for the advertisements, the plasticware use strewn all around through the days and nights of pandal-hopping, and the lack of interest in thinking of artificially manufactured and magnified sound as part of the pollution/abuse of the environment. If all these are not actively engaged, the eco-theme itself risks becoming yet another item of consumption, disengaged from the (deafened) neighbourhood. So I continue to oscillate between wanting to stay next year and explore other areas of the city, perhaps even join an effort to talk about some of these issues, and just get the hell out early to some remote hilly place….
Ah well. Last post I mentioned I started working on something. Here it is, the Helena cardigan from Knitty summer ‘08:
I made it for a friend’s one-year-old daughter, whom I am going to see for the first time ever in a couple of hours. Very simple top-down seamless pattern with raglan increases and picot sewed-in edges. Very quick, very cute! I had bought a contrast skein in red to make some stripes along the waist and wrists, but then decided the cream colour looked fine on its own. One of the things I liked best about the pattern is the YO increase along the raglan. See the bottom hole where the raglan meets the armscye – no worrying about the gap created by picked up stitches when joining the sleeve! Looks like a perfect detail in the pattern itself.
Needle: 3.75 mm Pony straights and DPNs.
Yarn: Oswal Continental acrylic, 3 skeins and a smidgen, approximately 80-85 gms. These skeins, frustratingly, don’t mention yardage or metreage, but my gauge matched the pattern’s, so I would estimate approx. 450 yards total – would make it about 130-140 yards a skein of 25 gms?
Gauge: 5.5 spi over stockinette.
Size: 18 months size in pattern.
I made no changes, except to substitute a two-row single crochet border for the knitted one, because I did not have a circular needle to accommodate all the stitches along the border. (Yes, my stuff shipped from the US is STILL not here and two stores I tried did not have a circular needle in the size I wanted.) But I did have a crochet needle, so I first tried a crochet picot border but then gave it up, because it was altogether too much picot in the sweater. I must say crochet borders are easier to do than knitted ones, but I am still not sure I like the look of them as much.
Yesterday I went to this huge market in Central Calcutta called Newmarket, to an old wool store (Guin Wool House) and their adjacent button shop. This was sheer button heaven, with incredibly lovely wooden ones at very cheap rates. I also bought some skeins of a pure 4 ply wool I have never seen before in stores here, called Adreena’s Suprina pure new wool.
It is a lovely variegated brick shade with red and mustard flecks… I swatched for it for another baby sweater in Knitty, but I think it may be too thin, and I might run out of yarn. But it is gorgeous, and looks lovely in lace, no?
Okay, time to gift-wrap Helena, and take her to the baby recipient!
I have two referee reports to write, several undergraduate and graduate papers to mark, an interesting, but long, book in turgid academese to read and make notes on for next week’s grad seminar, my taxes to do, and myriad other tasks with *deadline* written all over them. But all I could seem to concentrate on in my to-do list in the last couple of days was this:
The third, and for now the last in my baby knits series: a stockinette-y version of the February Baby sweater by Elizabeth Zimmermann. It is testament to EZ’s legendary status in the knitting community that nearly five thousand people have made a pattern that comes without required yardage, finished dimensions or the specified age of the baby and some rather vague directions! For all my railing against the pink-and-blue school of gender stereotypes, I did decide to abandon the lace because this was for a boy. Once I did that it wasn’t as difficult for me to figure out what to do – it’s basically a variant of the five-hour top-down one-piece sweater.
Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles; Practically Seamless (Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitter’s Almanac)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (Wool) in 1919 (green), Lot 7208; Cascade Cotton Club (Cotton/Acrylic), 2702 (off-white). I used 1.25 skeins of the green, and about half a skein of the off-white.
Needles: Size 7 bamboos.
Gauge: somewhere between 4.75 and 5 spi (this was weird, because I usually get 5 spi with size 6 on Cascade 220).
Dimensions: With the increased stitches detailed below, the finished dimensions were 13″ total length, 21″ chest circumference, 5″ shoulder to armhole, and 6″ sleeve length. As you can tell from the pictures below, it fits seven-month-old Sahu fairly loosely, and my guess is these dimensions will be good for a baby up to 12-15 months as well.
EZ’s pattern begins with 50 stitches, and goes up to 148 stitches total at the point where the sleeves and body are separated. I wanted some more, because Sahu’s mum had requested a large sweater that would fit him for a while. So I added 8 more rows in stockinette after the last white garter ridge, and then added 34 stitches evenly across the next row, making the total 182. I then separated the sleeves and body this way: 28 (front)-40(sleeve)-46(back)-40(sleeve)-28(front), making 5 extra stitches between each of the fronts and the back. So after separation there were 112 stitches on the body. I also picked up 5 stitches at the sleeve joins, making each sleeve 45 stitches. Which was probably a bit excessive, and the sleeves were larger than I would have liked, because EZ’s original pattern itself has rather roomy, boxy sleeves.
I am in love with green. I have always liked the mossy, forest greens, but this year I can’t seem to get enough of shades of lime and sage and freshly cut grass. For a commercial yarn, Cascade Heathers has a lot of depth, don’t you think? I initially bought a skein of the white and the green thinking I would do a fair-isle type pattern on the body, but the Cotton Club was much thicker than I realised, so I used it for the garter ridges only. I think it works very well as a design detail – a thicker garter ridge rising up in the middle of stockinette, especially if you use the first knit row of the ridge for your increases.
Stonemountain, as always, delivered with some nice fern buttons, and can you tell how much I love my camera’s macro function?
Two babies in the same building in very different seamless top-down garments, both very very adorable!
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